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3553Re: [mythsoc] Re: Article on Tolkien in _Salon_

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  • David S. Bratman
    Jun 6, 2001
      At 07:32 AM 6/6/2001 , Michael Martinez wrote:

      >--- In mythsoc@y..., "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@s...> wrote:
      >> At 08:33 AM 6/4/2001 , Michael Martinez wrote:
      >> >When the media interviews me about Tolkien, I prefer to discuss
      >> >the man himself, or his books.
      >> As opposed to ...?
      >Usually as opposed to whatever brings them to me in the first
      >place. :)

      OK, this time I'm not getting your joke.

      >Some of the people on this list, I gather, were contacted for the
      >upcoming article in Wired (the print version). It should be
      >published in a couple more months. I found that interview experience
      >to be more enjoyable.

      I found my interview experience with Chris Mooney to be highly enjoyable.
      "Beware ... Beware!"

      >> >I still run into this Tolkien cult
      >> >nonsense and I just dismiss it. And I've pointed out to more than
      >> >one reporter that when Shakespeare outsells Tolkien, I'll take the
      >> >Bard a little more seriously than I have in the past.
      >> That's a clever remark, but unfortunately it's also a cultish
      >> defensive remark.
      >It's intended to be a pseudo-literary snobbish defensive remark. It
      >does make people stop and think about whether Tolkien's following
      >should be regarded as a cult.

      That may be its intent, but the likes of Mooney are going to interpret it
      as meaning that you think that sales = quality. That's a cultish thing to
      think, ergo you'd get tagged as a Tolkien cultist.

      >I don't put Tolkien and Shakespeare in the same boat, if I'm asked to
      >explain the comparison.

      A big if. And if they ask, they probably won't print the explanation.

      >Shakespeare wrote for a different medium in
      >a different time. But Tolkien's popularity exceeds Shakespeare's
      >(today -- a comparison across the centuries is impossible, as you
      >imply). If we are Tolkien cultists, then Shakespeare's admirers are
      >Shakespeare cultists, and they should feel no more shame at being so
      >labelled than we.

      I don't follow this reasoning. Shakespeare's defenders aren't defending
      him on the grounds that he's popular. Indeed, they'd usually say he hardly
      needs defense. Certainly they wouldn't make such an obviously defensive

      Nor will more pointed comparisons work. Mooney seems to think Tolkien's
      admirers are cultists because some of them dress up as Tolkien characters.
      Well, guess what: some of Shakespeare's admirers dress up as Shakespeare
      characters too. But somehow nobody thinks that makes them cultists.

      >For better or worse, I believe the popular conception of Tolkien
      >fandom (if there has been one) will soon change radically.

      There will be more of a popular conception, but I don't see that conception
      changing much at all.

      David Bratman
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